Greenpeace Aotearoa New Zealand was founded in 1974, two years after the original Greenpeace, to protect the natural environment. It gained national prominence in the 1970s and 1980s for its action against nuclear testing in French Polynesia, and gathered huge public sympathy after the French bombing of the Greenpeace ship the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbour in 1985. The campaign against whaling was also very successful, and the issue has had the full support of the New Zealand Government since the mid 1980s.
Greenpeace Aotearoa New Zealand emerged from an amalgam of 1960’s and 1970’s NZ peace groups and activists, who had for a decade been actively promoting their opposition to the Vietnam War and nuclear testing. In particular, NZ Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament who were nationally campaigning against French nuclear testing in French Polynesia since 1961, culminating in a 80,238 signed petition presented to the New Zealand Government in 1962 demanding they took punitive action against the French to enforce a nuclear test ban in the pacific. Other groups include the NZ Peace Media, NZ Friends of the Earth, the Auckland Peace Squadron and Project Jonah.
The organisation also campaigns against nuclear weapons and nuclear power, deforestation, the release of genetically engineered organisms into the natural environment, climate change, and toxics. It uses tactics of non-violent direct action to draw attention to what it considers significant threats to the environment, and then lobbies for solutions.